Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation
by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Straub
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
Picture book, ages 5-8, Grades K – 3
Kirkus Best Books of 2015 * Jane Addams Book Award honor 2016
Saya’s mother has been arrested at work by the “immigration police” and sent to a detention center because she has no papers. Until Papa and the attorney can clear the matter, Saya is without her mother. Short visits are of some comfort, but Saya finds that Mama’s voice fades away from her memory too quickly.
Mama begins recording cassette tapes of Haitian folktales, so that Saya can have a bedtime story. Mama’s voice fills Saya’s heart and dreams with images of soursoup and nightingales, rainbows and sky travels.
As Saya watches her parents struggle to keep the family together and to secure Mama’s papers, she decides that she has her own story to tell. Saya’s story might just have the power to bring Mama home.
Separation with little hope for reunion is every family’s nightmare. Saya misses her mother desperately, and she never gives up hope. Through her parents’ examples of advocating for justice, Saya realizes that her own strong voice has the power to make change.